What I Need to Know About Pacifiers
The decision to give your baby a pacifier is your decision so be sure you understand the consequences. Sucking does have a soothing effect on babies but should they be given a pacifier? There are pros and cons regarding this controversial decision.
- A pacifier may help calm baby during medical procedures, shots, blood tests, etc – it is a distraction.
- A pacifier may help to relieve discomfort while on an air flight because sucking keeps the airs open.
- Sucking on a pacifier is better than developing a habit of sucking on fingers or thumb – a pacifier can be thrown away.
- A baby that has difficulty in settling down to sleep may be helped with a pacifier.
- There is a possibility that using a pacifier during sleep may reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) – research is ongoing.
- The early use of a pacifier may result in decreased breast feeding. The artificial pacifier is different to the natural breast and baby may become confused. You must wait until breast feeding has been properly established and is a routine before offering a pacifier between breast feeding – this may take six weeks.
- Prolonged sucking on a pacifier may result in dental problems i.e. the top front teeth may be slanted.
- If your baby becomes accustomed to a pacifier to sleep, your little one may wake up and cry every time it falls out.
- The use of a pacifier may result in frequent middle ear infections – research is ongoing.
- Don’t allow your baby to suck on a pacifier all day.
- Only offer a pacifier after and between breast feeds.
- Don’t offer a pacifier just to stop crying.
- Use a pacifier that is made of a single piece of silicone (not latex / rubber) to avoid choking.
- Do clean (disinfect) a new pacifier before giving it to your baby.
- Do keep the pacifier clean by boiling or running through dishwasher (if dishwasher safe) until baby is six months old and his or her immune system is stronger.
- Don’t ‘rinse’ the pacifier in your own mouth – it does not get rid of germs but adds to the germs you give your baby.
- Do buy the right size pacifier for your baby.
- Don’t let the pacifier become worn – rather replace before this happens.
- Do opt for a pacifier labeled orthodontic – it has a special shape for palate and tongue movement.
- Don’t tie the pacifier around your baby’s neck with a ribbon or string – it could cause strangulation.
- Don’t dip the pacifier into honey (botulism) or sugar or corn sugar – it could cause gum disease and / or tooth decay.
The most important tip of all is if your baby rejects a pacifier don’t fore it. It means your baby won’t be dependent on a pacifier. Your baby will learn to soothe and calm him or herself.